THE PAUL COX BAND -
LIVE ! BOTLEY HILL FARM
30th November 2001
SMMIGGYS TIPS "Barry’s Mag" January 2002
Hello Cherubs. Enjoy your Christmas? Lots of presents and pud? Good I'm actually writing this a few weeks before the great day- not a decoration up yet, no tree, gifts still to buy, so we have the unheard of situation whereby the Smigs column is being written, not only on time, but……..EARLY!
Why? Howcanthisbe I hear you cry. Well, my voles, I write in the white heat of in-spiration, the glow of ever so triffic excitement. As you'll recall in last month’s mag, I was bemoaning the approaching retirement of the beloved Nicky Moore. I wailed and gnashed my teeth, I rent my garments. Bereft. But, if the king is dead, long live the king. Problem is, who is go-ing to presume the crown: who is going to take over the baton, carry the torch forward into a future of mighty music and mixed metaphor? Let me make a prediction you've listened to my pontificating, my pompous pronouncements and contentious opinions for quite a while now. You know me as a crusty ol' git, not given to high praise. Of late, I have been espe-cially grumpy and hard to please. For a long time I have been unable to enthuse unreservedly, and I thank you for bearing with me through this bleak teatime of the soul. But now "a change is gonna come I've been refreshed, my music molecules have been disassembled, burnished, put back together, I walk with a lighter step. The occasion of this Christmas Carol-like conversation to a happier, more affordable Smigs-simply last nights gig. In the excel-lent company of wife - the lovely Bagford, Heather and Brian Hill and my little brother, Wobert, I went to Botley Hill Farm (30th November 2001) to see the man who, with the retirement of The Bespectacled One is now the undisputed King of the Hill. I speak of the silver tongued Old Stager of Redhill, the Stocky Fair One, yes... PAUL COX.
Backed by Steve James. on drums, Al Mclean on bass, Mike Summerland lead guitar and standing in for Gary Moberley on keyboards Johnny Henderson Paul took the discerning punters of Botley Farm, turned them upside down, shook the applause out of them, stood them back on their feet, joked them, danced them, and sang them into a state of cheerful and exhausted con-tent. Paul’s winning ingredient is the distinctiveness of his voice. He has great phrasing and control, power and range, but mainly he has a sound that allows you to identify him from the briefest snatch of a song-a timbre that's a mixture of whisky, honey and gravel. Unmistakable. This is a quality that can't be taught: it's pure bloody luck, and if you've been gifted with a magic vocal sound, then you're very lucky. And unusual. Ally this with the kind of good taste that includes numbers by Delbert Mclinton, Sam Cooke, Frankie Miller, Bobby Bland and other giants and you're on a winner. Remember, when it comes to blowing off your sox, Cox rox.
To the band.. Depping on keyboards, Otis Grande's keyboard man, Johnny Henderson was relaxed funky, and soulful (not easy when you're walking the edge. Al was equally splendid on bass and backing vocals, Steve the drum was very good and his nods winks and smiles to the band spoke of a man enjoying being very good.
Now comes the other special reason then plays something that says a lot about for el Smigs enjoyment of the his ego and nothing about the song. How night. For quite a while I have many guitarists see the song as a whole, been a jaded bunny when it comes to lead as opposed to intro-boring bit-MY guitarists (witness the 'Worlds Worst SOLO-the other boring bit-end. Mike Guitarist" debate). I was beginning think that I'm getting OLD.
The runs, licks, bends, and howls of the leadsman And he actually turns down after his solo. in full cry have not shaken my weary bones as in days of yore. It's like a kinda boring conversation: lots of sound and fury at the end of it all, you think "What was all that about"? You've been shouted at, harangued and generally belabored, treated to fireworks and gymnastic, a triple scotch and a twenty one-gun salute and it's all somehow terribly dreary. And you don't know whether to blame him, yourself, the warm beer or the moon in conjunction with Saturn.
Not so with Mike Summerland, He's quiet. looking fella, wee hint of menace in the features, but the sort of bloke who might be a successful professional hit man, who might 'know a geezer that knows a geezer' (He's probably staunch Rotary club member, bit I'm trying to be entertaining here) anyway, give him a solo and his true identity is revealed: a guitarist that plays straight from the soul.
No flash-no look at me technique, just a spare brilliance that gives every note a reason and a meaning. Not to say that he can't impress with power-house playing, he's got the stuff for that: it's just that you don't have to listen to playing where You continually hear Jack Nicholson as The Joker saying "Wait'll they get a load-on ME" or Pyrotechnic Man who waits for his solo with his bum wiggling like a cat about to pounce and then plays something that says a lot about his ego and nothing about the song.
How many guitarists see the song as a hole, as opposed to an intro boring bit MY SOLO the other boring bit the end. Mike Summerland does. My vote for best guitarist on the live scene at the moment. He actually turns down after his solo. Weird, eh?
So, there you are, just when I was despairing, feeling sensation fading in my extremities up pops The Paul Cox band, like a big friendly Saint Bernard with a barrel of rum. Bless ‘em.
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